Why it’s important for big business to foster small startups in Africa

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The much talked about success story of Africa tends to highlight the continent’s growth. The economy might be improving at an impressive rate yet there’s still a growing pool of young, talented and creative citizens who are left unemployed. To remedy this, big businesses play an increasingly important role to foster Africa’s noteworthy potential.

To give you a better idea of how such programmes can really change the lives of people around the continent, winner of the 2013 Anizsha Prize, Best Ayiorwoth from Uganda, shares her inspiring story with How We Made It In Africa.

As a young teen, Ayiorwoth was working as a waitress. Using her savings of about US$40, she started giving monthly micro loans with 10% interest to help other women grow their small businesses. The organisation is called Girls Power Micro-Lending Organisation (GIPOMO). “My organisation has a unique twist in microfinance by providing tied loans to women who make a commitment to grow businesses while keeping their girl children in school,” added Ayiorwoth.

After catching the attention of regional support programmes and competitions, today, GIPOMO has helped 64 women start their own businesses, 111 women expand their existing businesses, and kept 168 girls in school by supporting their mothers. Last year, at the age of only 19, Ayiorwoth won US$25,000 from the Anzisha Prize initiative to further support her growing business.

The Mastercard Foundation, together with the African Leadership Academy, supports the Anzisha Prize competition which stretches further than the South Africa’s borders and seeks to promote young entrepreneurs who have a broader social agenda. The programme involves entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 who already have existing solutions to social challenges. That’s super young yet it doesn’t fall short of initiative.


Picture of Best Ayiorwoth being awarded the US$25,000 prize.

South Africa, and the continent in general, has a young population. With an average population age of 24.9, the country’s claimed to be one of the youngest in the world. Given the right opportunity, these numbers could churn out some amazing things.

South African Breweries on the other hand is one of the country’s oldest industry giants. It was one of the first few industry leaders to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and, today, is the largest distributor of soft drinks in Southern Africa and responsible for some of the region’s most popular beers. All in all, it gathers a near R50-billion in annual revenue.

In order to bridge this gap between the young and old, SAB is one of the many brand leaders, supporting the young potential that South Africa has. The SAB KickStart programme started in 1995 as a poverty alleviation initiative and aims to support young black entrepreneurs in order to stimulate sustainable enterprise development.

SAB Kickstart

“It is important that big business in South Africa use their resources, experience and knowledge to help small business become sustainable and strong contributors towards the country’s economy,” says Boipelo Nkadimeng, SAB acting Head Enterprise Development and Community Partnerships.

This year the top eighteen finalists will each receive a business grant between R100,000 and R200,000 as well as 12-month business development support. “This means investing more than just capital but offering the support and guidance needed to carry these businesses through to success,” Nkadimeng further adds.

Most finalists over the years focus on agriculture, manufacturing, logistics with a handful looking to tap into the ICT sector. Impressively, since SAB KickStart started, more than 22,700 entrepreneurs are said to have participated with 80% of them still trading after three years.

SAB KickStart for 2014 has so far attracted more than 700 applicants overall and recently announced its top finalists for this year. Of the many who entered, these are the eighteen entrepreneurs.

The final winner of the SAB Kickstart programme will be announced in November this year during the Global Entrepreneurship Week. Applications for Anzisha Prize will be accepted until April. Both initiatives are growing with an exceptional rate in both their popularity and participant success rates.

Main image via Tax Credits

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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